Tuesday, 17 July 2018


  Thousands of tenants may now get a voice...   

Don`t hold your breath, but things may be looking up for a big group of people with no  voice… frustrated people who have long-standing problems with their landlord, the giant Riverside Housing Association.

New arrangements are underway that might improve things for Riverside`s 6,000 “voiceless”Carlisle tenants and leaseholders. The city council plans this improvement and hopefully the new arrangements will be agreed this week.

The tenants` problems with Riverside date back 16 years, to the date the Liverpool housing association  took over the city`s council houses and abolished democracy- the democratic tenants` groups ceased to exist.

It was to these groups that the tenants and leaseholders had previously taken their problems, to be quickly sorted out by their representatives or by city councillors.

Since then tenants and leaseholders have had no democratic voice. Worse than that, city councillors who tried to help ran into great difficulties on the ground. They had to go right to the top of the organisation-100 miles away- to get any sort of response.

Problems came to a head in April when Riverside  asked the council for a new relationship following its re-organisation.

Riverside had abandoned its Carlisle regional governing board which supposedly had run the city`s  Riverside houses since the handover in 2002.  In fact , according to critics, the board served no obvious purpose because it was accountable to no-one, was unable to deal with complaints and never appeared to  achieve anything.

In place of the regional board, Riverside proposed what it called a north regional liaison group with representatives from the council and Riverside. It will “discuss matters that are important to our customers and to Carlisle communities.

“But it will not be part of the Riverside formal governance structure,” said a report to the council`s Economic Growth Security Panel by Sarah Paton, Riverside`s Northern Director.

Ms Paton`s report has been extensively discussed by councillors in the last few months.Tory councillor Michael Mitchelson said he  was anxious to ensure that tenants “have a voice” under any new arrangement..

Labour Councillor Pam Birks said: “We need something that gives us some teeth to cater for those in need”.

And panel vice-chairman Steven Bowditch,(Labour) reminded members of the farcical regional board, now abandoned. 

He said that in the past he had taken up complaints about Riverside but could not get them dealt with locally.

”Each  time, I had to go to the very top of that organisation to get them dealt with. That cannot be right.”

On Thursday, the council`s Economic Growth Scrutiny Panel will  discuss two options to replace Riverside` regional board. One is to go ahead with the regional liaison group.

The other is to withdraw from any formal board arrangement with Riverside.

What that panel decides will hopefully fulfil the hopes and expectations of councillors Mitchelson, Birks and Bowditch.

 But don`t hold your breath. 
    Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803